Kashif Hafeez Siddiqui

The Reality of Lays Chips Controversy !!!

In Advertisement on June 18, 2009 at 6:54 pm

The controversy about “Lays” turned into a new shape after the recent launch of Junaid Jamshed (JJ)’s new TVC where he is endorsing Lays brand as free from any suspicious ingredients in Islamic Perspective. In TVC he is talking about “vegetable oil” where as issue is entirely different. Pls see that TVC

Before his impressive conversion towards Islamic perspective & lifestyle,  JJ was supposed to be a brand ambassadorJunaid JamshedTahir Khan for Pepsi. He has a strong relationship with Tahir Khan who is owner of Interflow, the advertisement agency of Pepsi Pakistan.  According to my sources JJ was contacted by Tahir Khan & he pushed him to come up in the TVC. Considering his long relationship with Tahir sb & proofs presented by Pepsi, JJ was convinced that Lays are Halal. Basically he was the person who advised Tahir sb to take the advise from South African National Halaal Authority (SANHA).

But when the TVC went on air someone informed him about daily Ummat researches. So he personally contacted to ummatUmmat office  & Saeed Ahmed Abassi (who had done the research),they clarified him about the whole scenario. He was worried & said that he will see what he can do now, but he left for Morocco with tableeghi Jamaat.  I don’t know when he will come back & what he will do. But before appearing in any ad he should have consulted with some reputable scholars regarding the issue.

It looks that now it’s the direct unmatched competition between a multinational company (which has huge promotional budgets with a very active advertising agency(Interflow) that has its own radio station & two TV channels , PR agency & many more ) &  Daily Ummat (who has the second largest reader base of Karachites only ) who is leading the story against Lays.

In search of reality I came across many websites & blogs. Interestingly most of the websites & specially blogs have the same information which is provided by Pepsi company itself.     E.g.                                                                       http://www.pakfactor.com/lays-halal-certificates.html http://mukalma.blogspot.com/2009/05/no-pig-fat-in-e631.html, http://pakmediablog.net/brands/follow-up-lays-100-halal/ http://www.zaheerspeaks.com/2009/05/19/lays-chips-haraam-propaganda-or-truth/

Here, at one blog I also see the image of Amir Liaquat Hussain in which he is eating Lays in IDP camps


But what is the reality? Is it still controversial? see the following

1) The controversy starts from the code “E631”. Pepsi claims that                                                                                                                 (Source :  http://i41.tinypic.com/20shs5.gif )                                                                                                

“In fact the E-631 used by LAYS Pakistan is derived from TAPIOCA STARCH, a plant based raw material which has been certified Halaal.”

2)      But research shows us that,

Disodium  Inosinate (E631), chemical formula C10H11N2Na2O8P, is the disodium salt of inosinic acid. It is a food additive often found in instant noodles, potato chips, and a variety of other snacks. It is used as a flavor enhancer, in synergy with monosodium glutamate (also known as MSG; the sodium salt of glutamic acid) to provide the umami taste. It is mainly found in animals like pigs and fish.

C. Please also visit http://www.exploreenumbers.co.uk/E-Numbers-with-Animal-Origins.html

where its clearly mentioned that E631 is extracted from meat , read the following

“E Numbers Purely Derived from Animal Origins

  1. I. These are the numbers that are derived purely from animal origins:
    1. E120 Cochineal – This crimson red colour comes from the crushed shell of the cactus insect, Dactylopious coccus.
    2. E542 Edible bone phosphate – This originates from animal bones.
    3. E631 Sodium 5’-inosinate – This comes from meat extracts and sardines.
    4. E901 Beeswax – This comes from the honeycomb produced by bees. Many people may think of it as being naturally produced, but people who are strictly avoiding all animal-derived E numbers may prefer to avoid it completely.”

The problem is clear

  1. Pepsi (Miss Saima Arshad- R&D Manager) is claiming that E631 (which produces flavors in Lays Chips) is extracted from TAPIOCA STARCH plant.
  2. Wikipedia is saying that this is a flavorless plant, so how  a flavorless product can produce flavor in chips.
  3. Wikipedia also confirmed that E631 is extracted from bovine sources specially from pigs & fishes.
  4. So the situation is clear Pepsi management is misguiding the people

3)      Pepsi also claims that they get the ingredient from International  flavor & fragrance Inc.” .iiff

I visited their website & failed to find any info about E631 there, You can also visit  http://www.iff.com/Internet.nsf/HomePage!OpenForm

I read the word “Kosher” there but not halal. Kosher means

Kosher foods are those that conform to the rules of Jewish religion.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher_foods

4)      According to daily Ummat IFF, Pakistan chapter office which is located in Kashif center – Karachi (near Hockey club of Pakistan) denied any supply of any thing by the name of E631 to Pepsi.

“Central  Islamic committee of Thailand” works under  the ministry of culture in Thailand.                                            There are three 1states where Muslims are in majority i.e.  Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat. In 2005, muslims in Southern Thailand madtHAI mUSLIMSe up 30.4% of population above the age 15, while less than 3% in other parts of the country.

Muslims in Thailand used the products of Indonesia & Malaysia as the Thailand administration  encouraged pig farming. Muslims of Thailand have doubts on the products, so to tackle this issue Thai govt. developed that institute but most of the Muslims don’t trust on that body.

5)      Jamia Ashrafia is  also refuting from issuing the certificate of Halal products to Lay’s. According to them “A Acadmic_BlockConditional Certificate had been issued that “If there is no Pig Particle added in the products, then it is Halal otherwise it is Haram and according to Jamia Ashrafia, “Lay’s Company is misusing that conditional certificate. You can see the written clarification issued by their Publication Secretary

Source: http://www.mesmarty.com/2009/05/lays-chips-jamia-ashrafia-denied-of-lays-authenticity-being-halal/ .


6)      Company is also giving the reference of “The South African National Halaal Authority (SANHA)”.      I am really surprised why Pepsi is not giving any reference of local authority.

So the conclusion is that every thing is not “clear” from LAYS & we have a few ”doubts”. They need to clear theirscan03 position. As far as I am concerned, PBUH advised us that “leave those things which have doubts” & doubts are clearly open & obvious for LAYS chips.

  1. you can visit other two posts on pakfactor for more details. This issue is mis leaded by Lays officials as well as blogs and media, specially Ummat exaggerated it to a high point.


  2. Very interesting according to my research it was clear with E61 as a haram ingredient but after JJ tvc i stopped thinking about this issue. yes no doubt about lays doubtful status.

    good work kashif bhai.

    keep going, All the best!


  3. *sigh*

    “It is mainly found in animals like pigs and fish.”

    Fish is not Haram. Why do you assume that they will WANT to sell us things with pigs in them? When its been certified by the South African board, which is known across the world.


  4. My point is if it is found in Pig and fish, and lays is made in Pakistan….naturally they’ll use the extract from fish.

  5. Thank you Kashif

    Can I publish your article in my blog, with your reference.

  6. To start with, I find you very confused Mr. Kashif.

    In point 5 of your argument, you say and thus doubt Jamia Ashrafia’s verification that Lay’s is halal and uses 100% halal ingredients and that that they are refuting to it. Then in point 6, you are again raising a point about the need of some local authority to have passed this fatwa about presence of halal ingredients in Lay’s chips.

    A prestigious local authority Jamia Ashrafia, which is a premier seat of Islamic learning in Pakistan, affiliated with the Pakistan Wafaaq ul Madaaris, a Board of Islamic Education for over 7,000 Madaris-e-Islamiyya in Pakistan and serving as an authentic source to matters pertaining to Islam, its procedures and results’ verifications seem not to satisfy you and you thus doubt its very fabric. And on the other hand, where Lay’s has given you a wide variety of proofs to check from, including both local and international prestigious Islamic institutions. you again seem to complain. I quote your own words:

    “Jamia Ashrafia is also refuting from issuing the certificate of Halal products to Lay’s. According to them “A Conditional Certificate had been issued that “If there is no Pig Particle added in the products, then it is Halal otherwise it is Haram and according to Jamia Ashrafia, “Lay’s Company is misusing that conditional certificate. “

    “Company is also giving the reference of “The South African National Halaal Authority (SANHA)”. I am really surprised why Pepsi is not giving any reference of local authority.”

    Could you please explain what exactly you are wanting to convey here? Are not your statements conflicting each other?

    Another point I would like to raise here is that when you come up with a generic debate and want to reproduce the facts and details kindly provide us with first hand information in this regard instead of putting it all on others’ shoulders. For example you have many a times used “According to…” which actually kills the essence of debate you are trying to put forward. Examples are:

    4) According to daily Ummat IFF etc. If several proofs and authentic sources cannot prove to you the halal status of Lay’s chips, how can you expect your readers to trust your mentioned sources whose own standings are controversial in the media industry?

  7. Dear Sister Sara,

    First of all thanks for visiting my blog & putting your comments. Debate in a positive manner is always good. Extremes attitudes can create any menace but obviously couldn’t solve any problem.

    1) Jamia Ashrafia (JA) is a very reputable institute. Where I discussed JA I have given a link & if you see that link, you will find the impression of hand written letter of Maulana Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Inqalabi (Secretary Information & public relations – Jamia Ashrafia) , where he clearly stating that we gave the fatwa to Lays chips with “Ifs” & “Buts”. If claimed ingredients are Halal then chips are halal & if ingredients are suspicious then chips are not halal.

    2) Mr. Mohammad Shazad Shaheen (R&D of Lays) informed Jamia Ashrafia that E631 has three sources
    a) Plants b) Fish & 3) meat & we get the E631( through their flavor house IFF) from plants which is provided by Ajiniomaoto company in Thailand.

    3) I have given two links above where it’s clearly mentioned that E631 sources are meat (for commercial use pigs) & fish

    4) And if there is a third source then it’s the bacterial fermentation not plants http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Seeing_that_there_is_E631_in_Lays_chips_does_this_make_them_%27halal%27_or_%27haram%27

    5) In case where I said no reputable local institute it means JA have cleared its position & now they are looking abroad
    6) Sister Sara in my view “According” means “Reference for fact” where ever I used the word ‘according’ I provided a link for reference.

    7) Yes one can say that my references are “controversial” its his or her right of disagreement . In the same manner I understand that other media references like Dawn/News /Frontier post etc are biased & controversial & misguide people against Islamic perspective.

    8) In the end all above given references of Wikipedia & others indicating that E631 couldn’t be get from any plant , the main & commercial source of this product is only bovine sources.

    Thanks & best regards

  8. Mr. Kahifiat,

    I went through your arguments and want to add to your information about the Cassava plant and answer some queries you have raised about the Tapioca starch.

    Cassava is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America that is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates.
    Cassava is the third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the world, with Africa its largest center of production. The flour made of the roots is called tapioca.

    Based on the statistics from the FAO of the United Nations, Thailand is the largest exporting country of dried cassava with a total of 77% of world export in 2005.
    World-wide cassava production increased by 12.5% between 1988 and 1990.

    You ask : “Tapioca is a flavourless, colourless and odourless starch and so how can it be used as a flavour enhancer? How can a flavour enhancer be flavourless?”

    Let me explain that if Tapioca starch is used as it is, then it can be considered as carbohydrate source like other starches like corn starch, potato starch etc. and it does not impart flavour. Normally it is been added to food products especially snacks like pellets type products, cookies etc.

    However, Tapico starch can converted into many other compounds by microbial fermentation process e.g. Sodium Inosinate and Sodium Guanlyate (E631 & E627). (normally dosage is very less 0.005 to 0.01% in finished products)

    Why tapioca is flavourless and sodium inosinate has flavour enhancer properties can be explained with 2 examples:

    Milk is sweet and typical taste however when converted into yogurt by bacterial fermentation has different taste and acidic properties. Similarly when milk converted in cheese it has altogether different aroma and taste.
    Similarly glucose is sweet in taste however extracted from corn starch which is flavourless.

    Hope that explains.

  9. I just want to say apart from the explainations given above which you mentioned is your article “Kosher” foods and you wrote: ” Kosher means such foods that conform to the rules of Jewish religion” and there is no mention of Halal.
    Is is NOT evident that Kosher foods do NOT have any pork ingredients in them??

    Thank You.

  10. Ms. Zara please provide any reference or link like Mr. Kahifiat, has provided. That E631 is made of Cassava…
    Coz we find only three ways of preparing E631
    1) Halal if it is obtained from sardines(Fishes).
    2)Mushbooh if it is made from brewer yeast extract,
    3)a by-product of beer making. Haram if it is extracted from pig meat.
    Kindly respond as it is urgent

  11. Ms. Zara PLease provide references just like Mr. Kahifiat. or any proof that E631 is made of cassava plant.
    B’coz we havent found anything such as Cassava as a source of E631 on wikipedia or anywhere else. Only Pepsico or lays claim this.

  12. As salam o alaikum Kashif sahab,

    Great work … and thank you for collecting all teh related stuff on a single page.

    Just 2 ays back Maulana Tariq Jamil sahab (the mentor of JJ) has also openly condemned JJ’s mis-judgment & blunder of the Lays related TVC.

    I just wanted to correct a fact here that … PepsiCo is no longer associated with Interflow Advertising (of Tahir Khan) but is with JWT Advertising (formerly Asiatc Advertising).

    Tahir Khan launched Ogilvy in Pakistan which started with Coca-Cola as its initial client … resulting in switching of PepsiCo from Tahir Khan’s company.



  13. If you would bother looking up a little more, you would also realise Muslim minorities in all Western countries happily eat Kosher food and is considered Halal by even the clerics.

    Besides like Sarah said, Kosher does NOT have any pig products so that settles the controversy.

  14. “Wikipedia also confirmed that E631 is extracted from bovine sources specially from pigs & fishes.”

    has no one noticed that the term bovine refers to cattle such as cows, ox, etc.
    why are we so eager to attack the pigs…and where do fish come into all this.
    also, where in pakistan are pigs reared commercially, for their extracts to be available for manufacturing use?

    moreover, nothing against the blogger, but this entire page has been dedicated to an argument over potato chips…potato chips? seriously? no offense.

  15. Thanks Kashifiat, gr8 source of knowledge

    brother and sister, no one here has any hatred agains pepsi or private plans to stop the company. If something is doubtfull, better is to leave it. These companies already have their mostly are powered by Jews and leaving them, and avoiding them.

    Some one rightly said, there are bigger problems than LAYS, so LAYS is smaller thing, why not leave it, whats stopping you in that ? if its really not a problem for you. There are so many other snacks, you may go for them.

    And mind one thing, if some1 among you thinks eating haram is no big thing, sorry dear read QURAN you will find out. As a muslim, its our duty to find out if something like that is happening, and should stop it by force, or atleast by saying it. I know some of you will not agree with me, difference is good, but religion should be given far more priority THAN LAYS.

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